Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.


  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course develops an understanding of opera as an expressive medium through the dramaturgical research of historically important scores and librettos, and by attending live performances given by Scottish Opera. They also gain insight into the operatic production process through talks given by Opera professionals and by designing their own productions.


Runs alternate years, please check Handbook for details. 3 hours weekly: 1 hour lecture + 2 hour seminar as scheduled in MyCampus. Attendance at evening performances and rehearsals is expected. Workshops as arranged.

Requirements of Entry

Successful admission to Junior or Senior Honours Music

Excluded Courses

MUSIC 2008


Dramaturgical research report (not less than 2000 words) due week 6 (40%); a group design project which culminates in the presentation of their own vision for a full staging of an opera of their choice (60%) due week 11.

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course encourages students to engage with opera as a living, artistically complex and, at times, controversial form. Students will learn to apprehend and negotiate these complexities through detailed analysis of the operas themselves (in musical and dramatic terms), through dialogue with professional performers, directors and designers involved with realising opera, and through critiquing live and recorded productions. They will be given the opportunity to express this understanding through design and dramaturgical group projects.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

1. Put dramaturgical theory into practice.

2. Evaluate and assess an opera with reference to the score, historical context, and potential for contemporary performance.

3. Contextualise the works studied in relation to the broad history of opera across Europe.

4. Evaluate technically and in detail the correlation between music and drama in opera, for instance, how music, language and characterization support each other.

5. Identify and explain complexities and aesthetic and stylistic challenges within operatic production.

6. Evaluate and criticise opera performances and stagings.

7. Recognise the impact of political context and funding on opera.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.